How Twitter killed my website — a lesson in keeping it simple

Jul 9, 2018 · 5 min read
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Photo by Noah Rosenfield on Unsplash

‘Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.’ I use this cliché Confucius quote with reluctance, but it perfectly and simply summarises my recent, confusing, but ultimately eye-opening experience. The experience of creating a website that aimed to promote my own creative content. This piece that you’re about to read describes what happens when a Creative’s own needs, and perhaps ego, overrules what is necessary and effective for the audience they are communicating to. Keep reading.

I create multimedia content and have been doing so for just under 10 years. Last year I found myself in a position where I felt I had gained a great deal of experience working in this field, but not much to show for it. Much of my work sunk into the abyss of work politics which resulted in my work looking like someone else’s work. Not ideal. I wanted some content that was a true reflection of my abilities and style — a few videos that I could confidently show off while networking without having to explain what it was meant to look like, so I took matters into my own hands. Working under the brand name Hoursxminutes (HXM) I went ahead and produced a series of uncompromised promos and music videos that I was proud of. Now, having produced said content I saw an opportunity to increase my presence in the creative community. I began casually sharing what I had created on social media, but I felt I could be doing more to up my creative profile.

A short video I created using Karol Grygoruk’s photography

I wanted to reach a wider audience; an audience of people outside of my friendship group. So the brainstorming session ensued. Guerrilla style illegal street ads? HXM stickers posted on street lamps and traffic lights. No, this isn’t a political movement I’m putting together. A less extreme option: over saturating Instagram posts of my work with hashtags? Sure, this will get the views up. But you can be sure a significant percentage of these views will be from bot accounts and other creatives ‘empty liking/viewing’ in an attempt to bring more attention to their own work. What I wanted to establish was meaningful engagement with my content.

I finally landed on an idea that would see my content taking the backseat while strengthening my brand. I decided to create a website that aimed to be a platform for up and coming creatives. I would find their work via social media and feature it on my website, giving full credit to them. It was called HXM World and the idea was that every few days I would populate it with something new to read, watch and listen to. The task here was to create a platform that featured cool, undiscovered content on a regular basis. A web space that people could rely on to serve good content they would normally miss out on, this included my own content. So, every so often I would embed my own videos in the watch section of the website, and an article I had written in the read section. How would creating such a platform grant me the kind of increased presence I was looking for?

A trailer I made to advertise

My thinking was that once people understood that HXM World was a reliable source for good content it would add more value to my own content. Maybe eventually a prominent social media influencer would stumble across my website and give it a shout out. Brands such as Hypebeast have seen great success by applying a similar content marking model.

Like Hypebeast the idea in action did provide good results. I saw some increase in engagement and it felt like a more organic and less intrusive way of showing off my content. I spent hours attempting to create a good experience for HXM World visitors. Much inspiration came from; I really enjoy the simplicity of this web app so, with my limited web skills, I attempted to emulate the function style the best I could. It felt great to create something like this from scratch while frequently assessing and reiterating it. The latest iteration of HXM World was optimised especially for mobile and device access, and I found myself mirroring the style of Instagram stories.

HXM World website demo

So here I was, I had created website that looked and felt like a clunky web version of Instagram that featured content that was already available on social media, and I was pretty proud of myself. After being down for a few weeks the website was ready for relaunch. Then I asked myself what I believe to be the most important and powerful question in human history ‘Why?’. I got so caught up in the creative process and the challenge that I failed to properly assess what I was trying to achieve. The original task was to create a simple and accessible platform for selected content that would also promote my own brand and my own work. I somehow completely ignored the fact Twitter, Instagram and Facebook is used for this very reason! All the tools I needed were already available to me free of charge, fully optimised for devices and accessible to all. If used correctly they provide an organic way of creating small communities of like-minded people. Exactly what I was looking for!

Maybe my ego and attachment to my own work caused me to ignore these obvious solutions. After all, I had spent a significant amount of time on each piece of content I created and didn’t want it to be bundled in with the mediocrity normally associated with social media. Maybe the objective did change over time and what I really wanted to do was challenge myself to create a cool website.

Either way, the simple, cutting answer was under my nose the whole time: work on strengthening your twitter account. Twitter is a social media platform that prides itself on connecting people to a multitude of different content types including videos, articles and audio. For this reason, it seems like the best solution for what I want to achieve.

So there the answer was, under my nose the whole time. I got caught up in creating something that served myself more than it did the needs of others and I think this is an issue Creatives often wrestle with. The intention of HXM World was to connect people to good content, it turns out twitter was already doing that and I just hadn’t joined the party yet. What a way to rediscover the sage advice to KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID!

Follow me on twitter: @Richiehxm

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